After a long weekend in the sun, you may be in need of a natural sunburn relief! Despite applying sunscreen, wearing hats, and avoiding the hottest part of the day, it’s inevitable that I overdo it once or twice each summer. I’m good about putting on the sunscreen—it’s the reapplying that I always forget! The hot and painful feeling that comes with a sunburn is so unpleasant.
These home remedies can help soothe irritated skin and prevent peeling (ugh). And don’t forget to drink plenty of water and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
5 Natural Sunburn Soothers
1. Take a healing bath
Add 1 to 2 cups of any of the following ingredients (or a combination of them) to a lukewarm bath. Avoid hot water and keep your soak around 15 to 20 minutes, or you risk drying out the skin even more.
As soon as you get out of the tub, slather all tender areas with an alcohol- and perfume-free lotion, coconut oil, or aloe vera.
—Apple cider vinegar bath: Dilute ¼ cup ACV in 2 cups of water, then add to the bath.
—Oatmeal baths have great anti-inflammatory properties to calm irritated, inflamed skin.
—Tea baths with chamomile, mint, or green tea: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tea bag per cup of water (you can use 2 of one kind or combine them). Steep for 15–20 minutes. Remove tea bags, let it cool slightly, and pour the freshly-brewed tea into the bath.
Sunburn Bath Recipe
—1 cup oats, ground
—½ cup baking soda
—¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1. Combine ground oats and baking soda in a sealed container.
2. Draw a warm bath (as cool as you can stand) and add ¼ cup of the baking soda oat mixture along with the apple cider vinegar.
3. Relax in the bath for no more than 30 minutes, and then generously apply a healing moisturizer like aloe or coconut oil to still-damp skin when you get out.
Why it works
Oatmeal baths are actually a very old remedy for irritated skin conditions—usually eczema and psoriasis—but they still work well in this instance for sunburn. Oatmeal is rich in beta-glucan, a super skin-friendly molecule that helps to increase moisture in the skin, supporting its natural healing processes for a sunburn that goes away faster.
Adding baking soda and oats to a bath eases sunburn pain, itching, and inflammation.
2. Apply an itch-relieving baking soda + ACV compress
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar provides pain relief while baking soda soothes itchy skin. Make a paste with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda.
I know what you’re thinking—vinegar? On a sunburn? This soothing compress helps to take down the itching (there’s nothing worse than trying to not scratch a healing, ugly sunburn, right?)
Add several drops of a soothing essential oil like geranium [source] or lavender [source], and apply directly to the sunburned areas, or use a soft cloth to make a compress. This also works for bug bites!
3. Mix up a cucumber lotion
If you (or the kids) won’t sit still for a compress, a cooling lotion is a great solution. Cucumbers are one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory agents!
Adding aloe vera provides cooling, anti-inflammatory relief that takes the sting out of a sunburn [source]. Keep it in the fridge for extra cooling relief!
Cooling Cucumber Lotion Recipe
—¼ cup coconut milk
—¼ cup aloe vera juice
1. To juice the cucumber, coarsely grate it and place in a strainer or cheesecloth over a bowl. Push the cucumber to release the juice. I got almost a cup of juice from just one cucumber!
2. Pour into a lidded container and add the coconut milk and aloe vera. Shake to combine. Keep refrigerated.
3. You can apply to the skin with a spray bottle or by wetting a wash rag and applying to irritated areas.
Why it works
Combining cucumber juice, aloe vera, and coconut milk for a moisturizing spray lotion soothes lobster-red skin and adds much-needed moisture. Not only are cucumbers naturally cooling, but the vitamins they contain also work on dark eye circles and help skin retain moisture. Plus, you’ll get a dose of retinol and silica, which help regenerate skin cells.
4. Spritz on a healing tea spray
I love this body spray—applying it just out of the fridge feels so good on hot, parched skin! Chamomile and aloe soothe and help heal tender skin, while the peppermint provides cooling relief.
Green tea has tannic acid and antioxidants that soothe irritated skin and help heal sun damage [source]. Green tea can help prevent sun damage, too, so try spritzing this on your face before your daily moisturizer.
Cooling Tea Spray Recipe
Add coconut oil to a 4-ounce spray bottle, and then add the lavender drops. Pour in the aloe vera and witch hazel and swirl.
Drizzle in the honey, replace the cap, then shake to mix in the honey.
Spray liberally onto targeted areas that are in need of after-sun soothing.
Why it works
Skin-calming aloe helps bring down redness and heal the skin. The moisturizing ingredients help to minimize peeling, although you may want to up the moisture content by applying some pure coconut oil on top!
5. Soothe redness with an aloe face mask
My nose and cheeks are always the first to burn. That’s possibly why I have more than my share of freckles and age spots in those areas! A soothing aloe face mask with healing honey will help bring down the redness.
Aloe & Honey Mask Recipe
1. Combine ingredients and apply the mask to your face and any other sunburned areas.
2. Of course, you can use prepared aloe vera gel, but having an aloe plant around is always really handy. To harvest the gel, just carefully break off the leaf, then peel and put the raw gel into a blender to get a smooth consistency before use.
Why it works
Aloe works as an anti-inflammatory on reddened skin and is one of the most commonly used ingredients for minor burns (plus, it provides cooling relief). Raw honey is another natural healer, and it acts as a humectant to draw moisture into dry skin. This combination promotes skin healing and will calm down a burn.
What’s your favorite sunburn remedy?
Boukhatem MN, et al. Rose geranium essential oil as a source of new and safe anti-inflammatory drugs. Libyan J Med. 2013.
Da Silva GL, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Cienc. 2015.
Radha MH, et al. Evaluation of biological properties and clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera: a systematic review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015.
Lambert JD, et al. The antioxidant and pro-oxidant activities of green tea polyphenols: a role in cancer prevention. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified pediatrician with more than 20 years of practice experience. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.